A short story about a woman's vanity.
The Porcelain Lady
By. Liam S.
Once, in a distant land, there lived an exceedingly beautiful woman. Princes from all across the land fell at her feet, begging her proposal. But she had only one love, and that was for her reflection. The woman would spend hours in front of her glass, brushing her locks of golden hair, staring into her hypnotic green eyes. She sang songs of her own beauty and laughed at the thought of anyone more fair. Something always drew her gaze from the mirror, the ghastly deformed face of her infant son. " Others will see him as a burden upon my beauty"
One night, the child in her arms, the woman crept into the woods. Once she was far into the trees, the woman called upon an ancient spirit who appeared in a brilliantly terrible flash of light. " Why have you summoned me?" Inquired the spirit. Voice trembling, the woman replied. " I wish to be the most beautiful woman on the earth" A twisted grin formed on the spirit's face and it turned to face her hideous child. " I shall do as you wish...in exchange for your son" The woman gazed upon the scarred face of the sleeping child before handing him over to the spirit. With a wicked shine in it's eyes, the spirit began to fade away. " Lie in these woods tonight, and at the sunrise you will find yourself as beautiful as your heart."
Once the spirit was gone, a deep fatigue came upon the woman and she drifted into a fitful sleep. Upon awakening, the woman peered into her small mirror. She gasped at her immense beauty. Her skin was so very pale and soft, her lips and cheeks were coloured a faint red. The woman strolled into the village confidently, and began to flaunt down the market street. Men's eyes followed her and the woman grinned with glee. As she approached the door to her little home, a filthy looking man fell at her feet, his eyes pleading. " Please ma'm, oi ain' got the coin ter feed my little'uns" The woman merely snorted at the man as she stepped aside and walked into her home. The woman sat in front of her great mirror and sang as she brushed her flowing hair. Suddenly, she quietened her melody and gazed, quite sharply, into the mirror. Upon her close inspection, the woman screamed. For just above her lip, was a crack.
The woman scrambled to try and cover the unsightly crack, but nothing seemed to work. " It must only be a trick of the light" she reassured herself. That night, the woman dressed herself into her finest silk gown as she prepared for the evening ball. A knock sounded at the door and in the window appeared the carriage driver. The driver was a tall man, covered in all manner of warts and boils. The woman frowned with distaste as she climbed into the carriage. As they sped off towards the village, the driver hit a very large bump in the road, sending the woman headlong into the seat opposite her. Angrily, the woman shouted. " Open your eyes you ugly swine!" When they had reached the gardens, the driver opened the door and assisted the woman outside. As the driver closed the door, however, the hem of the woman's gown was caught and tore a small hole. The woman smacked the driver with her fan, shouting. " You stupid little man!" The driver tried to apologize. " I do not want an apology from you!" shrieked the woman and she spun around and entered the ball with a lying face.
The night was alive with the sound of music and laughter. Women, dressed in fine gowns, danced with the handsome gentlemen. But none could hold a candle to the radiant beauty of the woman as she glided into the area. A handsome young man asked her to dance and she happily accepted. As they danced, the woman told jokes, and as the man laughed, the woman beheld the man's awful teeth. Yellowed and putrid enough to put a corpse to shame. The woman abruptly ended the dance and quickly walked away. In the reflection of the fountain, she frowned deeply. Her face was much more chipped and cracked than it had been this morning. " Spirit!" she cried. " What have you brought upon me?" People began to gather around her, talking amongst themselves. In an act of fury, the woman beat her fist upon the fountain and, to everyones horror, she smashed her hand into hundereds of pieces. Screaming, the woman began to run for the woods, to hide away from the people's mocking eyes.
Branches tore at the woman's hair and dress, she could feel the tears sting her eyes. She ran far into the trees, before she found herself at the woodsman's cabin. Exhausted, the woman entered to find the home empty. She lay herself upon the bed and began to sob. Quietly, the spirit's voice could be heard. " You are as beautiful as your heart" The woman drifted off into sleep. While she was sleeping, the woodsman returned and was astonished. " Who is this beautiful creature that lies in my bed?" The woman awoke and saw the woodsman. He was a tall, muscular man, with kind blue eyes. The woman began to cry. " Look upon my face, gentle woodsman, for I shall not care if you fear me" The woodsman knelt down, and held the woman's face in his hand. " Why should I fear something more fair than the lillies of spring?" The woman blinked away some tears and was puzzeled. " You do not find me hideous?" The woodsman tilted his head, taking the broken hand in his. " Never, would I have thought you to be ugly" And as she gazed into his eyes, she felt something change inside her heart.
As time passed, the woman grew to love the woodsman and all people, and her cracks and chips began to mend, even her hand had grown back. One day, near the river, they found a beautiful child playing in the stream. The child recognized the woman and ran to her. The spirit whispered softly to the woman. " Your love has healed the child, as well as your frailty...remember this lesson" As the family ventured to their cabin, the faint singing of a mockingbird could be heard.